Khartoum, Jul 1 (AP/UNB) — Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sudan's capital and elsewhere in the country Sunday calling for civilian rule nearly three months after the army forced out long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
A government official said at least seven people had been killed and nearly 200 injured during the demonstrations.
The protests came amid a weekslong standoff between the ruling military council and protest leaders. Talks between the two sides over a power-sharing agreement collapsed earlier this month when security forces violently broke up a protest camp in Khartoum.
The ensuing clampdown resulted in at least 128 people killed across Sudan, according to protest organizers. Authorities put the death toll at 61, including three security forces.
Soliman Abdel-Gabar, acting undersecretary of health, reported Sunday night that at least seven people died during the day's disturbances. He said 181 people were injured, including 27 with bullet wounds.
The marches, the first since the June 3 crackdown, also mark the 30th anniversary of the Islamist-backed coup that brought al-Bashir to power in 1989, toppling Sudan's last elected government. The military removed al-Bashir in April amid mass protests against his rule.
The crowds gathered at several points across the capital and its sister city of Omdurman before marching toward the homes of those killed since the uprising began.
"This is a very important day for the Sudanese people," protester Hamdi Karamallah said.
The protest movement erupted in December, triggered by an economic crisis. The protesters remained in the streets after al-Bashir was overthrown and jailed, fearing that the military would cling to power or preserve much of his regime.
Osman Mirghani, a Sudanese analyst and the editor of the daily newspaper al-Tayar, said the marches "changed the equation" in favor of the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which represents the protesters.
"Now, all pressure cards are in the hands of the FDFC. The marches corrected the situation," he said.
On Sunday, protesters chanted anti-military slogans like "Burhan's council, just fall", according to video clips circulated online. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan is head of the military council.
Video clips showed protesters running away from security forces in the streets of Khartoum and seeking shelter from clouds of tear gas.
On a highway leading to Khartoum's international airport, a convoy of troops and riot police allowed some demonstrators to pass through as they headed toward the house of a protester who was killed earlier this month.
The protester's mother was standing outside and joined the demonstration. They waved Sudanese flags and chanted slogans calling for civilian rule.
Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals' Association, a leading protest organization, told The Associated Press that security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in Omdurman and the district of Bahri in the capital.
He said protests also erupted in Atbara, a railway city north of the capital and the birthplace of the uprising that led to al-Bashir's ouster.
The Sudan Doctors Committee, the medical arm of the SPA, said a protester in his 20s was shot dead in Atbara. Nazim Sirraj, a prominent activist, said at least four people were killed in Omdurman.
The SPA later called on protesters to march on the Nile-side presidential palace in Khartoum, as security forces closed off roads and bridges leading to the palace. The groups later said security forces barred the protesters from reaching their destination.
The FDFC called on protesters to head to other squares in Khartoum and Omdurman.
Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council, said the generals want to reach an "urgent and comprehensive agreement with no exclusion."
"We in the military council are totally neutral. We are the guardians of the revolution. We do not want to be part of the dispute," he told a gathering of army supporters.
He said three troops from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces were wounded during the protests in Khartoum. Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, is the leader of the Rapid Support Forces.
"Our mission is to protect people and any peaceful revolution," he said.
The previous day, the military council said it did not oppose the demonstrations but warned protest leaders that they would be held responsible for any vandalism or violence during the marches.
The African Union and Ethiopia have meanwhile stepped up their efforts to mediate an end to the crisis and reach a deal over setting up a new transitional government.
Earlier this week the AU and Ethiopia extended a joint proposal. The generals and the protesters voiced their approval but did not immediately restart negotiations.
The military council said in a statement that it submitted its response to the envoys, and that the generals are ready to resume negotiations on Sunday based on the AU and Ethiopian proposal. Lt. Gen. Shams Eddin Kabashi, a spokesman for the council, said it was hoping to reach a "comprehensive political solution" under the umbrella of the AU.
However, the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which represents the protesters, said talks could only begin once the military has officially ratified the AU-Ethiopian proposal. Al-Mustafa said talks would resume "directly after the military council signs the proposal."
Cairo, Jun 30 (AP/UNB) — The forces of Libya's Khalifa Hifter said that Turkish vessels and interests are "legitimate targets" in its battle to seize the capital of Tripoli, after it accused Turkey of helping rival militias allied with the U.N.-supported government.
The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Hifter, already controls much of the country's east and south. It launched an offensive against the weak Tripoli-based government in April. The fighting has threatened to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and led to his death.
A spokesman for the LNA, Ahmed al-Mesmari, said Friday the country had "come under illegitimate Turkish aggression" in recent weeks.
"Turkey has become directly involved in the battle (for Tripoli), with its soldiers, planes, sea ships and all the supplies that now reach Misrata, Tripoli and Zuwara directly," al-Mesmari said.
He said Turkey had helped push the LNA out of the town of Gharyan, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tripoli. The town was a key supply route for Hifter's forces pushing toward the capital.
Turkish forces also bombed LNA positions and provided air cover for militias allied with the Tripoli-based government to retake the town, he said.
Al-Mesmari said LNA forces have now been ordered to target any Turkish ships, strategic sites or companies operating in Libya or its territorial waters, and to arrest any Turkish nationals in Libya.
Libyan officials said they had carried out "heavy" airstrikes in retaliation against the fighters who retook Gharyan. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
The government in the east said LNA forces were killed after being captured alive in hospitals in Gharyan, a claim denied by Gharyan Gov. Yousef Bediri, who is loyal to the Tripoli government.
Bediri called on rights groups to investigate the killing in Gharyan saying the LNA troops were killed earlier during the fighting.
Col. Mohamed Gnono, a spokesman for the Tripoli government forces, told a news conference in Gharyan that they captured over 150 of Hifter's troops and seized armored vehicles, three drones and U.S.-made weapons and missiles.
Oded Berkowitz, an Israeli security analyst who specializes in the Libyan conflict, said "the most interesting and notable" of these seized weapons were FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles, UAE-made Yabhon drones, and Russia-made Kornet anti-tank guided missiles.
"This is a game changer not only because it's a highly advanced weapon, but because it's also American," he said.
Last month, a Facebook page linked to the Tripoli government posted photos appearing to show more than a dozen armored vehicles arriving at port, without saying who supplied them. Supporters of the various militias allied with the government said the vehicles, which resemble Turkish-made Kirpi armored carriers, were supplied by Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday he was unaware of the LNA's orders. "If Hifter has given such an order, we'll get that evaluated," he said. He said Turkey had already taken "necessary" precautions.
Erdogan said in April his government would stand by Tripoli authorities as they repel the offensive launched by Hifter's forces.
The U.N.-supported government condemned Hifter threats of targeting Turkey's interests in Libya.
The Government of National accord, backed by Turkey, urged the U.N. support mission in Libya to have "clear positions" toward these "unprecedented comments" by the LNA spokesman.
In a press conference late Saturday, al-Mesmari said their airstrikes would continue on Gharyan and outskirts of Tripoli.
He said LNA forces repelled attacks by militias allied with the U.N.-supported government on towns of Ain Zara and Wadi al-Rabie outside Tripoli, killing at least 26 from the militias.
"Forensic reports showed that wounded in Gharyan hospitals were knifed, shot deal in their heads or rammed by cars," he said.
Hifter, who in recent years has been battling Islamic extremists and other militias across eastern Libya, says he is determined to restore stability to the North African country. His opponents view him as an aspiring autocrat and fear a return to one-man rule.
Harare, June 29 (Xinhua/UNB) -- At least 16 people died in a head-on collision between a commuter omnibus and a haulage truck about 100 km south of Harare on Friday, police said.
The crash occurred in Featherstone on the Harare-Masvingo highway when the truck driver swerved to the opposite lane, after another bus travelling before him abruptly stopped, and collided head-on with the commuter omnibus, police spokesman Paul Nyathi told state-run news agency New Ziana.
Sixteen people died on the spot, he said.
The number of the injured was still unknown.
The Harare-Masvingo highway is highly prone to accidents due to its poor state and heavy traffic.
Abuja, June 26 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Twenty-two local farmers were killed following an attack by terror group Boko Haram who invaded a village in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, security sources said on Wednesday.
The Boko Haram fighters attacked the group of farmers on Monday in Ngamgam village, about 50 km east of Damasak town in Mobbar local government area of the state, one military official told Xinhua.
Dozens of people including women and children fled with bullet wounds, most of them seeking refuge in the nearby Damasak town, as the gunmen went on the rampage.
Usman Bala, head of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force, a militia group, said the Boko Haram members came in large numbers on foot and surrounded the village before unleashing terror on the farming community.
Bala said up to 18 bodies were first recovered at Ngamgam as of Tuesday morning during search and rescue operation by locals, but later on, four more bodies were found hit by bullets.
Boko Haram, which launched attacks in Nigeria's northeast a decade ago, is known for its agenda to maintain a virtual caliphate in the most populous African country.
Kampala, Jun 24 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Six street children were killed and two others seriously injured as a result of a school perimeter wall collapse on Monday here, a police spokesperson said.
Patrick Onyango, Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, told Xinhua that the perimeter wall of Lohana High School collapsed following heavy rains and buried the street children who were sleeping at about 1:30 a.m. local time (2230 GMT Sunday).
"Our fire brigade and rescue team is still on the ground to clear the debris and see whether there are still kids trapped," he added.
The police spokesperson said the two injured were immediately taken to Mulago Hospital for urgent medical care.
Some five people, including four children were killed last month in a residential fence wall collapse following heavy rains in Seguku village, Makindye division, about 10 km southeast of Kampala.